Dolly Parton at the Parkway Playhouse!?

You read that right and you are hearing it here first! 

Dolly Parton will be making her Parkway Playhouse debut in 2012 as the theatre will be adding the Broadway musical  9 to 5 to the Parkway Playhouse Season line up.  (It will replace the previously announced production of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN). 

9 TO 5 The MUSICAL  is of course based on  the classic film comedy that featured Dolly Parton in her film debut and includes a whole score of new songs from Dolly, as well as the famous classic title song.   It is set in 1979 and follows the adventures of three secretaries (that’s what they were called back then) as they take out a hilarious (and justifiable) bit of revenge on their lying, hypocritical, sexist, egotistical, boss Mr. Hart.  Filled with lots of sass, laughs, and great music this is definitely a musical to “whoop it up” about. 

Additionally the wildly successful Asheville based playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten will have their newest comedy MAMA WON’T FLY  added to the Parkway Playhouse 2012 season!   

 An outrageously hilarious race against the clock begins when Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt agrees to get her feisty mother all the way from Alabama to California in time for her brother’s wedding. Savannah’s problem: Mama won’t fly.

With only four days to make it to the ceremony, this determined daughter has no choice but to drive across country with her equally willful mother, Norleen Sprunt, in Mama’s vintage sedan. As Savannah steels herself for this hastily conceived road trip, another extraordinary complication arises: the bubbly, over-eager bride-to-be arrives unannounced. Hayley Quinn, delighted to finally meet her future in-laws, is convinced traveling together to her wedding is the perfect way to bond.

Look for more information and annoucements (including Auditions times)   about the 2012 Season at the Parkway Playhouse season.

(Theatre tickets make GREAT gifts and you can get them for the theatre lover in your life by calling  (828-682-4285) or emailing the theatre (info@parkwayplayhouse.com) now.

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Beautiful Star is a beautiful play

What happens when you combine traditional mountain music with English mystery cycle plays (as in plays about the Bible stemming from the pre-renaissance) and set it in an Appalachian Church?  

The result is Preston Lane and Laurellyn Dossett’s buoyant nativity play Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity.  Which was a HUGE success and played to capacity crowds in Greensboro NC for three seasons straight at Triad Stage-where  Preston Lane is the Artistic Director.    

 The play is about a group of parishioners in a fictitious mountain church who are putting on a nativity and we see the characters in the play assume a whole bunch of characters from the play that they are doing.   It is warm-hearted and fun.  In an interview I read/watched/ encountered somewhere, Preston Lane said something about wanting to evoke the church that everyone would want to go to and they kind of  Nativity pageant that would be done at this church would be simply but somehow different….. Well he more than accomplished this- all of his characters are expert story tellers and they bring an interesting perspective to a story that is so familiar and yet gets lost in the contemporary materialistic din of ‘Christmas shopping’; and with Laurellyn Dossett’s songs it is easy to get lost in the play’s atmosphere of joy. 

We obviously could not perform this show in the Playhouse- as has been the case with all the theatre’s holiday offerings-as the theatre has no heat source.  I thought it would be cool to actually perform the piece IN a church like the one described in the play.  I didn’t have to go far.  A.J. Moore, who started working at the Playhouse last Christmas, is the Pastor at Bald Creek Methodist Church, on the West side of Burnsville.  The church is nestled at the foot of a ridge of mountains and is right off the main drag.  It was perfect.  The cast will begin doing some rehearsals there after Thanksgiving.

The cast!  We have a great cast.  All of them are WNC natives, with most coming right from the hills and hollers of Burnsville.  The production is directed by the estimable team of Amanda Pisano and Steven Grindstaff.  

We have some pictures from rehearsal here and I hope you will make time to come on out for one of the performances with your family.  The show runs December 8,9, and 10 at 7:30pm at the Bald Creek Methodist Church, which is located at 29 Bald Creek School Road in Burnsville.   You can get tickets online by going to our website http://www.parkwayplayhouse.com or by calling the theatre at 828-682-4285.  Tickets for this show are $10-$15 and there is a discount for groups. 

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So what goes on after the curtain comes down?

The short answer…. lots.

Many people are unaware of just how much work actually goes on at the theatre when there is not a performance getting ready to go on- or some people think that the Parkway Playhouse only does things in the summer.  This is simply not true. In fact some of the most critical work at the Parkway Playhouse takes place when there ISN’T a show being performed and it takes a year of planning for productions to go from idea to opening.

We are RIGHT NOW between shows at the Parkway Playhouse, and here is what we are working on:

1. Building Upgrades and Fire Code Compliance

The Parkway Playhouse facility is OLD.  It is also charming, unique, full of character, and there truly is nothing else like it.   Over the years the theatre has spent thousands of dollars and even more in volunteer man-hours keeping the building in the condition that it is currently in.  (We are long overdue for some renovation!)   But we have to keep working on it.  Last year we fixed the roof, redecorated the bathrooms, sprayed for bugs, built a Memorial Garden, and CLEANED!  Our current Board President, Alice Hutchins, is the queen of volunteer workdays and they are fun and the work done makes a huge difference almost immediately.

This past year, we had a building inspection and we had some upgrades to make.  The most noticeable change  is our front door now has upgraded handles and panic hardware.  We are also working on our stage floor…. and, yes,.. more CLEANING!

2. The Show Goes On!

You may not be aware of it but we will open 3 more shows this before the 2011 is out.  The Parkway Playhouse Jr. program is working on two musicals that will both be performed by the up and coming performers in our performing arts training program for students between the age of 5-18!   The first show is A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD and it will run on November 11 and 12 at Mountain Heritage High School and tickets will be available at the door.  This musical is based on the children’s book and if you want to know what it means to embrace life, then come and watch some young drama students sing and dance their hearts out retelling this story of an amazing  friendship.

Bugsy Malone is based on the cult 1970’s film that featured Scott Baio (that’s right… Cha-Chi, Charles, reality TV) and Jody Foster in a world of hoodlums, thugs, and heavys who sort out their differences by “splurging” their rivals with guns shooting whipped cream.   It is funny, witty, charming, and about to go on the road.  That’s right- BUGSY MALONE will be included in the 2012 National Junior Theatre Festival, which is held in Atlanta, Georgia in January of 2012.   You can support the participating Parkway Playhouse Jr. students who are performing in this musical by coming to our December 15 performance at Mountain Heritage HS.  Then it is off to Atlanta.

The third show we are working on is our Holiday production and the last show of our 2011 Season.  BEAUTIFUL STAR: AN APPALACHIAN  NATIVITY.  This production combines the nativity story with traditional mountain music and story telling.   It was created by North Carolinians Preston Lane and Laurellyn Dossett.  It is a play within a  play- which is to say that the characters in the play are in fact getting ready to perform a play.  It is wonderful.  It features a great local cast including Parkway Playhouse staple performers Roberta Whiteside and Rob Storrs and is directed by the equally fabulous team of Ami Pisano and Steve Grindstaff.  Since the show takes place in a church we decided to do it in a church.  We were lucky enough to have the Bald Creek Methodist Church welcome us and they are hosting this production which will run December 8, 9, and 10.

3. Fundraising

This activity could be called a lot of different things.  But fundraising is a big deal for any non-profit organization.   The Parkway Playhouse operates on a budget of about $200k each year.  Sure we sell tickets, but given that the average ticket price is just a little over $15 we would have to sell twice as many tickets or raise the prices which would make the theatre inaccessible to some. We don’t want that, so it is through the generosity of our growing family of donors that we are able to make theatre affordable to almost anyone in our community.

Fortunately supporting the Parkway Playhouse is easy to do and the average annual gift to the Parkway Playhouse is about $100. Some donate more, some donate less.  The fact is that if 25% of the people who attended a play in 2011  donated $25 the theatre would be financially secure.     We are looking to meet our 2011 fundraising goal of raising $9000 more before the end of the year.  (If we exceeded that goal we would be ok with that too….).     We are also looking to make fundraising easier for people to take part in.  For people who might like to support the theatre but may not feel comfortable making a lump sum donation can now do an installment pledge through our secure website.    People can also make their full donation by using our website as well.   If you can make a donation and help us reach our goal we hope you will- there is a link at the bottom of this post and that you will consider sharing it with other theatre-lovers.

4. Finally….

The website needs revamping, grants to be written, press releases to go out, mailings to be posted, tickets to be sold,  events to be planned, and productions to be designed, scheduled, cast, and then rehearsed.  Our first show of 2012 opens on May 4, 2012.  That is 191 days from now…. or 27 weeks or 4600 hours….no matter how you look at it the time will fly and it will be showtime again.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOU… (AND THANKS FOR READING OUR BLOG!)

If you would like to make a donation to the Parkway Playhouse’s 2011 Fundraising campaign, click here to make a secure one-time or recurring donation: https://www.justgive.org/nonprofits/donate.jsp?ein=56-0858217

If you would like to get involved at the Parkway Playhouse as a volunteer, backstage technician, box office assistant, office assistant, groundskeeper, usher/performance host, performer, or building specialist call us at 828-682-4285 or send us an email to info@parkwayplayhouse.com

If you would like to buy tickets to  A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD (KIDS), BUGSY MALONE JR., or BEAUTIFUL STAR: AN APPALACHIAN NATIVITY please call us at 828-682-4285 or send us an email at info@parkwayplayhouse.com

Season #66- or the 2012 Mainstage Season

2011 has been a great year for the theatre in so many ways.  The theatre was the 2011 Recipient of the 2011 George A. Parides Award by the North Carolina Theatre Conference, our 2011 production of ROBIN HOOD: THE LEGEND OF SHERWOOD got top honors in the locally written production category along with 2010’s THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY; the theatre had its longest season ever with great productions going from May through October and we are getting ready to start rehearsals for our holiday production very soon.

Not bad….

….and we have a great new season to announce.  In many ways it is a signature Parkway Playhouse season with big musicals, a classic of the world stage, an entertaining look at a critical person from our region’s history, and the return of a holiday favorite.  There are new plays from local writers (6 NC Playwrights will have their work performed at the Parkway Playhouse in 2012)- the Parkway Playhouse has made a unique committment and indeed some of our most exciting productions have come from the imaginative minds of people right in our backyard.

There are also some special events that we cannot announce yet because we are still working on them.

We don’t have audition information or season ticket information up here or on the website YET…. but it will get there.  In the meantime,  I get to enjoy sharing with you one of the most exciting times we have at the theatre…. which is getting telling you about where we are going next.   Please share this blog and post comments.  (It is always more exciting to write when you know people are reading….. unless of course you have nothing nice to say, then please do spare us…)

Here it is SEASON #66/The 2012 Parkway Playhouse Mainstage Season (dates/titles are subject to change but hopefully not)

OUTLANDER (World Premiere from an NC Playwright)
By Gary Carden
May 4-12

Set in the heart of Appalachia, this world premiere play chronicles the work of Horace Kephart: librarian, academic, author, outdoorsman, and founder of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Using storytelling, humor, and music, this play captures the essence of one of North Carolina’s most fascinating “adopted” sons.

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
By Duke Ernsberger and Vrigina Cate  (Both NC Playwrights)
May 26- June 9
It’s 1970 and Elvis Presley is missing. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, needs his star for an extremely important live performance. (You see, he owes a certain mobster a bit of money). Oh, and the show is in 24 hours. When the search for the real Elvis proves fruitless, he looks for the next best thing – an Elvis impersonator. But where can he find one that he can pass off as the real Elvis? And what has the real Elvis been up to anyway? This riotously funny story will have you wanting more and keep you guessing until the end!

BIG RIVER: THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
By Roger Hauptman and Roger Williams
Based on the Novel By Mark Twain
June 23- July 7

Twain’s timeless classic sweeps us down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim, a slave, escape to freedom at the mouth of the Ohio River. Their adventures along the way are hilarious, suspenseful and heartwarming, bringing to life your favorite characters from the novel-the Widow Douglas and her stern sister, Miss Watson; the uproarious King and Duke, who may or may not be as harmless as they seem; Huck’s partner in crime, Tom Sawyer, and their rowdy gang of pals; Huck’s drunken father, the sinister Pap Finn; the lovely Mary Jane Wilkes and her trusting family. Propelled by an award-winning score from Roger Miller, the king of country music, this jaunty journey provides a brilliantly theatrical celebration of pure Americana.  

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
By Herbert Fields, Dorothy Fields, and Irving Berlin
July 21- August 4

Annie Oakley is the best shot around, and she manages to support her little brother and sisters by selling the game she hunts. When she’s discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill, he persuades this novel sharpshooter to join his Wild West Show. It only takes one glance for her to fall head over heels for dashing shooting ace Frank Butler, who headlines the show. She soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction which, while good for business, is bad for romance. Butler hightails it off to join a rival show, his bruised male ego leading the way, but is ultimately pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The rousing, sure-fire finale hits the mark every time in a testament to the power of female ingenuity.

ROMEO & JULIET
By William Shakespeare
August 17-25
Bounding between festive celebrations and bloody duels to the death, battles of wit and soaring romanticism, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the world’s greatest and most enduring love story. From their first shy glances to their last heartbreaking kiss, the star-crossed teenagers choose each other in spite of their feuding families’ ancient grudge, as their love races towards a final confrontation with fate.

EVERY SEASON (World Premiere from 2 NC Playwrights)
By Britt Kauffman and Stephanie Stark Poling
September 8-22

Set against the backdrop of their perennially dismal football team’s surprisingly successful season, three long-time friends reluctantly acknowledge the importance of their man-love for each other despite widely divergent lives.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Adapted by Andrew Gall (An NC Playwright as well)  from the Novella by Charles Dickens
December 2012
Mountain Heritage High School

This family holiday classic combines the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his timely redemption by three ghostly visitors with some of the most beloved holiday music.  Watch for tickets to go on sale in the fall of 2012.

A great snow… I mean show!

So we are in the final few days of rehearsal for  A CHRISTMAS CAROL and we get walloped with a 2-day snow storm!

Ugh.

The cast has largely been undaunted by this.  They have been showing up to rehearsal with huge energy and we have literally and figuratively been plowing through.  We have had a great time singing songs and putting together a show that captures the spirit of the Christmas Season with Dickens’ timeless tale of ghostly redemption.  It really is a lot of fun.

The cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

This is the first time we have done a major production on this scale outside of our normal  season.

While the cast features a number of seasoned professionals, the real treat is the energetic performances of the younger cast members – many of whom are making their first foray into theatre.  The youngest member of the cast is 4 the oldest is in their 70’s.  Despite the range of ages, everyone in the cast is clearly relishing in the production.   One of my favorite moments in the show is when the cast joins Tiny Tim and the Cratchits in singing ‘What Child is This’.

At the heart of this production is Bruce Chuvala- who plays Ebenezer Scrooge.  Bruce is a fixture at the Parkway Playhouse and his Scrooge is wonderful and the transformation from a Christmas-averse miser to  #1 Holiday-enthusiast is unforgettable.   I have seen actors throw themselves into a role-but Bruce has gone all out.

Bruce Chuvala and Gabriel Garland- who plays Tiny Tim in A CHRISTMAS CAROL

 

The guy in the red shirt is me. The little girl is actually my daughter, Hunter, who is making her Parkway Playhouse début in the children's ensemble of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. We are with Gabriel Garland and Bellami Mencis.

We are all nervous about the  show –  not  just the normal we are about to open jitters but that we will have no audience because of the fear of more bad weather.  So get the word out, and come and see the snow….

“Save the drama for drama class”

In the fall of 2010, the Parkway Playhouse, Jr. opened the doors to children ages 6 to 18 for their first session of theatre classes. A wonderful time was had by all!

A total of 34 students spent 8 weeks exploring various elements of theatre arts. Our elementary students ventured into the excitement of imaginative play, while learning performance skills as they memorized and practiced poetry with clear diction and lots of charisma. The teen students dove straight into monologues, while continuing to practice improvisational skills and discovering basic fundamentals of life in the theatre.

Our instructor, Mary Katherine Smith, is a Parkway Playhouse Company member who just so happens to also be a passionate educator.  Mary Katherine was last seen in Guys and Dolls as Miss Adelaide and Lily St. Regis in Annie, which she also choreographed. She has training from international instructors from all over the world and has worked in various educational studios and institutions with ages 2 to 70 over the past 10 years. We are happy to add her to our Parkway staff as Director of Education and Outreach and are eager to see what she brings to our organization.

We are now moving full steam ahead as we plan for the Spring of 2011 Parkway Playhouse, Jr. classes! We have extended the Spring session to 16 weeks and have added a new age to the equation but opening an 8 week session for 4 and 5 year-olds.

We are very pleased to introduce  Andrea Bailey as a new teacher for the Spring.  Andrea brings with her a deep passion for music, and especially the benefit music has on children and young adults.  Andrea is the music director of Bright Hope Laurel United Methodist Church and is a member of the Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers and a graduate of the Mars Hill Music Department. She is working on A Christmas Carol for the Playhouse where she is serving as music director, and was last seen on stage this summer in the productions of Pride and Prejudice, Guys and Dolls, and Annie. We are very excited for this new addition to our educational department.

We are also thrilled to announce that on the evenings of April 29th and 30th, the Parkway Playhouse, Jr. will be producing their first annual Country Western Show! This will give elementary and teen students an opportunity to hone in on performance skills, while uncovering movement, vocal/choral, and character techniques.

Stay tuned for upcoming information about Parkway Playhouse, Jr. summer camps and programs!!!!

2011!! by Andrew Gall

The Parkway Playhouse turns 65 in 2011 and 2010 was the most successful season in the theatre’s history!   It is hard not to feel like there are HUGE expectations of the Parkway Playhouse after an explosive 2010 season.

I like to tell people that next year will feel a lot like this past year- except different shows. Hopefully, you – that is the magic ingredient after all. The number of people involved on stage, backstage, fixing the building, volunteering to usher, playing in the orchestra pit, sewing costumes, painting sets, etc.   Theatre, at its finest, is an expression and reflection of the community it serves and that to me is what was most exciting about 2010 and what I am most looking forward to with 2011!  Our community is dynamic, energized, and eager for a new adventure.

So, here it is, the Parkway Playhouse 2011 Season:

A Cabaret Show TBA- (dates and venue tba)

(Cowboy Cafe, 2004)

Think songs from musicals that HAVEN’T been seen at the Parkway Playhouse or selections from musicals that SHOULD be done at the Parkway Playhouse.   More on this fundraiser/special production soon….

THE MIRACLE WORKER by William Gibson

May 6- May 14

We are opening earlier this year.  This year the Parkway Playhouse will open on Mother’s Day weekend with the amazing story of how Annie Sullivan met the blind and deaf Helen Keller and taught her communicate with the outside world.  A great inspiring and inspiring story!

Parkway trivia moment:  look at this picture

Look at the guy on the right (that is Anne Bancroft on the left in the motion picture The Miracle Worker)…. The guy on the right is Parkway Playhouse’s own Andrew Prine in his first major motion picture.  Andrew has appeared in many more films and television shows as well as some Parkway Playhouse productions over the years.  Break a leg Andy!

AN UNCIVIL UNION: THE BATTLE OF BURNSVILLE by Britt Kaufmann

June 3-11

During the Civil War some 40 women stormed the Confederate Army stores in Burnsville, NC and took food supplies to keep their families fed.  The next day a group of men raided the same Confederate encampment and stole guns and ammunition…. and a half a ton of bacon.  This is world premiere play is a fictitious account that imagines events leading up to the aforementioned raiding.  Written by Burnsville area poet and author Britt Kaufmann, this surprising and clever new play reminds us that heroes come can come from the unlikeliest of places.  Think Steel Magnolias in the Civil War and you KIND of have the right idea….

Britt Kaufmann... writer, poet, and now playwright


1776 by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards

June 24- July 9

We often take our liberty for granted.  We perhaps forget that it took tremendous courage to sign the Declaration of Independence.  In this amazing musical our history comes to blazing life as John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson struggle to forge a new nation.   I love history.  I love our American history and this production puts you in the room when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Incredible stuff.

These guys thought they were going to hung for treason for doing this. They look so contemplative here....

SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens based on the works of Dr. Seuss

July 22- August 6

I like Dr. Seuss.  Reading his books was a thrill as a child- the zany characters and the clever word play lend themselves to hilarious and dramatic antics.  When I became a parent I re-discovered these stories and characters again as I shared them with my kids.  Seussical takes all of that big energy and pumps it in to an exhilarating evening with lots of singing, dancing, and of course the Cat in the Hat presiding over the whole event.   It is also perfect for families and children of all ages.


ROBIN HOOD:THE LEGEND OF SHERWOOD by Jeff Douglas Messer and Robert Akers

August 12-20

When I was about 9 or 10 my parents took me to see the 1938 Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone version of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.  Around that same time, I saw my first play, the two events are linked in my mind.   I think Robin Hood- and similar such swashbuckling stories are fun, lots of fun .  The bad guys are clearly bad, the good guys are just and true, and the women are courageous and faithful.  I don’t know what happened, but my generation has allowed Mel Brooks to co-opt Robin Hood.  In fact  most people when I say “Robin Hood” immediately follow it with “men in tights”.   So this production, which was written by Jeff Douglas Messer- a truly Merry Man- and Robert Akers is a brash, smart, take on the classic legend with lots of swords.  We’ll see about the tights.

Robin Hood! This is the way it should be.

ALONG ABOUT SUNDOWN by Brenda Lunsford Lilly, featuring the Music of Bascom Lamar Lunsford

August 26-Sept 3

How do you follow-up THE BALLAD OF TOM DOOLEY?  A runaway smash for our theatre last year.  A gothic look at a Southern legend set to haunting music.  I followed it up by asking Brenda Lunsford Lilly if she had any other plays that she had ideas for.   She in fact did.  It turns out Brenda is a niece of Bascom Lamar Lunsford who was a renaissance man of the mountains.  Politician, bandleader, songwriter, storyteller,  and visionary.  He founded the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival – which is still celebrated.  He left a legacy of music and touched many lives and we will absolutely tell his story next season on our stage.  (Thanks Brenda!)

Bascom Lamar Lunsford

FALL PRODUCTION TBA

Dates/Venue TBA

We  are still working out the details on this one.  We have some interesting ideas that we will be sharing soon.

BEAUTIFUL STAR: AN APPALACHIAN NATIVITY By Laurelyn Dossett and Preston Lane

Dates/Venue TBA

( Photo: VanderVeen Photographers from Triad Stage 2009)

Starting with Adam and Eve and ending with the birth of Jesus Christ the parishioners of the Open Heart Fellowship Community Church present their Nativity Pageant with vibrant folk-music and simple, down-home storytelling.  This show-within-a-sh0w captures at once the spirit of the Holidays and the traditions and heritage of Appalachian Storytellers.

So, there it is. Our season.  The only question is what role will you play?  We hope a big one.

Get your tickets to A CHRISTMAS CAROL and watch this space!